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NGOs come together for reducing air pollution in Punjab

Jul 03, 2018

This initiative will help in implementing low-cost alternative solutions among farmers to reduce crop residue burning in Punjab.

New Delhi: EY Foundation India, the not-for-profit arm of Indian member firms of EY Global, committed its support to the India ParyavaranSahayak (IPS) Foundation to implement a cost efficient and scalable solution to address the air quality issue in Northern India.

The grants will be used to spread awareness and drive usage of in-field straw management practices among farmers to reduce air pollution caused due to crop residue burning The first phase of the project will cover over 300 villages in five districts of Punjab, which have been observed to have high prevalence of crop burning.

Stubble burning is a common practice amongst farmers across north India, especially in the absence of economically viable and convenient solutions. According to the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, nearly 23 million tonnes of rice residue are burnt every year, releasing 34 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, causing large parts of north India to be covered in thick layers of smog. Exposure to this smog can lead to severe health and environmental hazards, experienced in several parts of North India every winter.

In february 2018, the Punjab government made it mandatory to use the Straw Management System (SMS), while using the combine harvester machines. Using the grants, IPS Foundation will raise awareness among farmers about the benefits of using in-field SMS combined with Happy Seeders, which will enable farmers to sow the next crop without clearing the standing stubble.The awareness programme will include roadshows, community meetings, product demonstrations, farm visits and technical trainings for farmers.

The cost of using a Straw Management System and Happy Seeder is comparable to the overall costs incurred by farmers in preparing the land after burning the crop residue. The system is estimated to not only help in increasing average yield of wheat by 2-4% over a period of time (as compared to conventional methods) but also lead to savings in water while improving soil health.

Sridhar Iyer, National Director, EY Foundation India saidprotecting the environment is an important pillar of our commitment to Corporate Responsibility. Pollution caused due to crop residue burning across India has been a cause for concern for several years and needs immediate attention. Our support, extended to the India ParyavaranSahayak Foundation, is aimed at encouraging economically viable, easy to adopt and scalable solutions for the farmers”.

“We hope this collaboration with the IPS Foundation will help us make a significant contribution towards addressing this challenge by increasing awareness among farmers and allaying their concerns”.

Ritesh Bhatia, CEO, India ParyavaranSahayak Foundation said, “We are happy to receive the  support of EY Foundation India, which will enable us to enhance awareness and train farmers in adopting alternate straw management solutions. For any solution to be sustainable and widely accepted, it is important that it is cost efficient and convenient for the farmers to adopt. While several challenges exist, which have hindered wide-scale adoption of alternate technology to avoid burning, with consistent efforts and support from all stakeholders, this issue can be addressed.”

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